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Driver had drugs in system when he hit two sisters, killing one of them, court told

Witnesses say erratic driver drove into two sisters who were walking their dogs along a Central Saanich road
Map: Central Saanich site were driver struck two pedestrians, killing one of them, on Aug. 27, 2018. TIMES COLONIST

A Central Saanich driver had methamphetamine and benzodiazepine in his system when he struck and killed a Victoria massage therapist and critically injured her sister three years ago.

That information was revealed Monday on the first day of Anthony Thomas’s judge-alone trial in B.C. Supreme Court.

Thomas has pleaded not guilty to impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing the death of Kim Ward on Aug. 27, 2018.

Ward, 51, had worked with some of Canada’s top athletes at two Olympics — she was part of the support team for Triathlon Canada at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where Victoria’s Simon Whitfield won silver, and at the 2012 London Olympics. At the time of her death, Ward and her sister were visiting their mother, who lived in a trailer park on Central Saanich Road.

Prosecutor Tim Stokes told the court that Thomas was driving a red SUV on Mount Newton Cross Road in Central Saanich on Aug. 27, 2018, just before 7 p.m. Thomas came to a four-way stop and had a small collision with another vehicle on Mount Newton Cross at Lochside Drive. There was no significant damage.

The two drivers got out of their cars. The court will hear that a woman driving the other car described Thomas as being very nervous. Thomas left the scene and moments later was travelling south on Central Saanich Road, said Stokes.

Witness Lucas Underwood was walking his dog on Central Saanich Road and recognized two women who came out of the trailer park and were walking their dogs at the same time. They were walking ahead of him, heading south on the east side of Central Saanich Road, said Stokes.

Suddenly a car came from behind Underwood. Although it was heading south, it was travelling way over in the northbound lane, Underwood told police. The red SUV continued in the wrong lane past Underwood and continued to veer to the east side of the road — the side where the women were walking — past the shoulder and onto the grassy boulevard, said Stokes.

Underwood saw the vehicle hit the women and their dogs, then crash into a concrete retaining wall, where it came to a stop.

The court will hear evidence from other drivers who will also describe the car veering over into the opposite lane, going onto the grassy boulevard and continuing until it collided with a structure, said Stokes.

Kim Ward died instantly at the scene. Her sister Tracy Ward was critically injured.

Thomas stayed at the scene, and police, fire and ambulance arrived shortly after.

One driver described Thomas as having a very blank look at the scene. Thomas complained of an elbow injury and was taken by ambulance to Victoria General Hospital, where a sample of his blood was taken.

At the hospital, a police officer saw Thomas making contact with walls as he walked down the hallway.

Court will hear evidence from a police collision analyst who went to the scene and is expected to testify that his measurements and the data event recorder from Thomas’s SUV indicate it was travelling at a speed of 75 km/h shortly before the collision.

Police got a search warrant for the blood sample taken at the hospital and sent it to the RCMP forensic lab in Vancouver, said Stokes.

The sample was analyzed by several technologists under the direction of Kimberly Young, who will be called to testify as an expert witness.

“I expect she will tell the court that Thomas at the time the blood was taken had in one millilitre of blood, had 297 nanograms of methamphetamine and 39 nanograms of benzodiazepine,” said Stokes.

The Crown plans to call 11 forensic lab witnesses to describe their handling of the blood samples, along with eight first responder witnesses — paramedics, police and firefighters — to describe Thomas at the scene of the collision and at the hospital.

In total, the Crown plans to call 35 witnesses, Stokes said.

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